Julius Nyerere Meets Mao Zedong


This photograph was taken in 1965 when President Julius Nyerere paid a state visit to the People’s Republic of China. The two nations shared cordial diplomatic relations, even though both nations had different ideological stances on socialism. Mao’s aid to Tanzania was generous. There was a reason that such a relationship could work. The newly independent African nations were exploring other options for aid and assistance rather than their former colonial oppressors. China was still in a precarious situation with the deterioration of relations with the Soviet Union and the war in Vietnam. China needed allies outside Asia  to counter these potential security threats. Mao Zedong provided financial and labor assistance to the Tamzam Railway. This railway was more than a symbol, it challenged white minority rule in Rhodesia and South Africa. Tanzania and Zambia when the railway was completed allowed for cargo to be transported without going through white minority ruled regimes in Southern Africa. This was both an example of anti-colonial resistance and solidarity among global south nations. Despite Western hysteria claiming that China was attempting to make Tanzania and Zambia client states, the project continued employing thousands of African and Chinese workers. Today Tanzania and China are close allies and trading partners.


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